Archive for October, 2017


Delving into the Deep

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

Maybe it was a dream, maybe it was someone hoping. But I could have sworn I heard or saw that this year’s World Series was going to be between the Dodgers and the Yankees.

Immediately my head started thinking about how somethings never change, even when teams switch coasts or get new ball parks or have long-time owners die.

I thought about players such as Lou Gerhig, the Yankee who died from ALS and became the namesake of the devastating illness. I thought of Yankee Joe DiMaggio with his 56 hit streak and later devotion to Marilyn Monroe.

I thought of the dodger’s phenomenal pitcher, Sandy Koufax and groundbreaking Jackie Robinson.

That is until I finally heard that it was going to be the Huston Astros vs, the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball.”

Field of James, Kevin and JamesJames Earl Jones, in his deep-throated honey voice said these lines in Field of Dreams, a movie that never doubted the magic of baseball.

This is not a movie for little kids, not contextually. Sure they can watch it for the most part and they might understand some of it, especially that desire to play catch with your dad. But the grief one feels at lost opportunities or the crazy motivation to turn your field of corn into a baseball diamond is powered by something more adult. There is a longing that children or teens may not quite get but adults do.

That is why this movie makes men cry.

I find Dracula movies are complex like that as well. I’m not talking about Twilight but those movies that feature Dracula as a man who lives on the side of evil but remembers when he wasn’t that way. You see it in the Bela Lugosi 1931 version, the way he looks to Mina to become what he is and to have her by his side always.

There is something of love, of hope, of a determination to not be alone.

Dracula-untold-luke-evansYou see this theme in many of the Dracula movies, even the Gary Oldman version from 1992 fed on this theme. Winona Rider who played Mina, made her love for the count an obession worth dying for.

Over the years, we have not lost our fascination with the undead. Writers and film makers have explored what it means to be a vampire, The last movie I found was in 2014 starring Luke Evans as Vlad, a man who is trying to protect his village but takes extreme measures to do it. Dracula Untold may not be a good movie but it is filled with action. And it shows a man who understands the decisions he makes, accepting their consequences.

That is always one thing I respected about Dracula, no matter what his incarnation. He is who he is with no regrets, no looking back. Otherwise, wouldn’t he try to kill himself or have Van Helsing do it for him?

Maybe this weekend I could explore one of these incarnations. Even Gerard Butler has taken on the role with a New Orleans setting in Dracula 2000 before he became a super action hero saving the U.S president one more time.

Bring on the popcorn.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

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Zombie Love and Hate

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

Zombie movies have been the bane of my existence. They terrify me and come back to haunt me in my dreams.

And I love them. There is something about them that exhilarates me. I think about how close you are too death and how close you are to life as a zombie.

Yes, I realize this is horrible and strange and fun all at once.

The problem is I can never watch a zombie movie ever again once I have seen it.

The reason has nothing to do with them being bad but being so good I will find myself in a zombie apocalypse for the rest of the night.

Shaun of the Dead

But if I could watch them, the first movie I would go to is Shaun of the Dead starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. This British comedy duo put together a good zombie movie that happens to parody the genre while scaring one to bits. I can’t say what I started to write because this is a family-read paper.

 

 

The story is about a man who is a bit of a sad sack who wakes up one morning to discover that the Zombie apocalypse is happening in his town, in all of his favorite places. His first thought is to save his ex-girlfriend because this turmoil has made him realize that he loves her and wants forever with her.

There are bits that will make you laugh, make you cry, and in the end, make you shake your head just a bit while being terrified because these zombies eat brains and whatever parts of the body they can get their hands on. This movie, despite being a comedy, is not for kids. It has an R rating which means there is lots of blood and gore as well as swearing. The Brits love the f-bomb.

28 Days laterA more realistic zombie movie is 28 Days Later. This movie is about a zombie apocalypse in England. It is 28 days since the outbreak of a virus that makes people incredibly angry. Angry enough to tear family members apart. There is no reasoning with these zombies, only a bullet can stop them. Cillian Murphy wakes from a coma to discover this new world. He eventually meets up with other survivors to find a safe place,

But there may be no safe place. That’s the killing part of this movie by Danny Boyle. It is not easy to watch, not easy to think about but this movie filled with great performances by some of the lions of British film stars. Again, it is rated “R.”

Warm bodies

 

But if you want a zombie movie that is a little easier to handle, the first is Warm Bodies starring Nicholas Hoult as a dead young man willing to kill other humans to be his dinner every night. That is until he sees Teresa Palmer being a hot-shot zombie killer. Something inside of him changes and he slowly becomes more human. Played like a romantic comedy with the what-if scenario of zombies being re-born, it is interesting to say the least.

 

scooby doo zombie IslandThe other is my go-to for kids and that is Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island. Here Scooby-Doo and the gang are investigating a haunted island in the middle of the Bayou for a TV segment for Daphne’s Haunted America TV show. But our meddling kids get more than they bargained for as they realized that they are dealing with real monsters, instead of a guy in a suit. It is fun lite scare that will put only the smallest of viewers down nightmare hallway.

That is my favorite place to avoid at all costs.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Gotcha!

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

Now that Halloween is near, I am seeing some great Halloween decorations around town and the county.

Ghoulies and ghosts, bats and pumpkins are flying about about or sitting in cute arrangements. We have ghosties to put in our yard and I have started buying candy for that big event at the end of the month. Our church is planning a Trunk-or-Treat event as well.

The leaves are turning and the air smells different. It feels crisp and clear, perhaps this is our version of the Californian sweater weather that I have heard of but never experienced. I know I can go out in the morning with a sweat jacket when I have to walk the dog in the morning and at night. But if I work in the garden during the day, I have to take off a layer.

Trying to find movies I can watch during this time is a challenge. I don’t watch scary movie because they give me nightmares. These movies replay in my head once I shut my eyes which is not always fun. I have to do some serious meditation to keep these movies from sticking. I don’t know how other parents do it. I didn’t let my kids watch the really scary stuff for a long time. My fall back during the season was always Scooby Doo.

The Woman in Black IMDb com

Poster Image from IMDb.com

It’s movies such as The Woman in Black starring Daniel Radcliffe that really get to me. These flicks have plenty of “Gotcha” moments that make a person jump and scream a little or a lot. In this movie, Radcliffe is a lawyer sent to close the estate of a deceased client in a far-off English village on the coast. He has to be in her house and anytime the Woman in Black appears, children are going to die. Her unhinged anger at losing a child led to unhinged anger in the after life. Who knew?

What is funny is that I love watching ghost shows such as Dead Files and Ghost Adventures. These people are always going into allegedly haunted places and finding ghosts or evil entities. The things that they say or their actions can be quite frightening. However, when they replay the event you can see how scary or not scary the event might be. You can see if it is real or not. Or as real as it can look; my kids are always telling me how fake these shows are.

The difference between these is the build up to the action. In horror movies, you always know that something is about to happen for a variety of reasons. First, the character is doing something stupid, such as wandering around alone. Second, the music becomes eerie with discordant sounds that sets a person’s nerve on edge. That is when the moment happens. The evil entity jumps out, the mass murderer gets another person, someone disappears or falls through an open elevator shaft.

But in the ghost shows the action never has build up other than a voice over stating that the scene you’re about to see shows some conclusive evidence. There is little music run-up or if there is, it follows a statement before immediately going into commercial break.

Those are the scares I can handle.

slasher movie villiansFreddy, Jason, Michael, zombies, Leatherface, and the Woman in Black terrify me every time. Even when I know they are coming, even when I hear all of the warning signs.

Probably a good thing I am not like the majority of movie goers or horror films would not have stayed so successful.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

It’s a Documentary!

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

I love watching a good documentary.

It is those true stories that have meaning and verve that make you feel wonder and awe about our life here. Some of them make us feel something more uneasy.

Standing in the Shadows of Motown

Image from IMDb.com

I have loved some documentaries in the past. I loved Standing in the Shadows of Motown, a documentary about the studio musicians of Motown when the studio was based in Detroit. Just the soundtrack alone is enough to make me smile. It is the stories of those musicians that make you cry or stand in wide wonder of these men.

Another that is the tops on my list is Man on a Wire about a French man’s tightrope expedition between the twin towers of New York City. To hear the story of how Philippe Petit planned and executed his famous but highly illegal performance is fascinating and a bit of a heist movie with plenty of dumb luck.

But there is one man who is the master of the documentary and that is Ken Burns. Whenever I watch his movies, I feel as if I have learn something I was not going to learn anywhere else. I feel ten times smarter although if I had just read or looked up some of the facts he portrays, I might have known them too.

His newest documentary is call The Vietnam War. It is a movie that does not shy away from a war that might be our nation’s biggest regret. The episode I watched featured a clip about Jane Fonda, aka Hanoi Jane. If you want to get a room of people upset, just mention her name. I find people still react strongly to her. I am certain I have not heard of positive word said about her for the last 20 or more years.

Anyhoo, there is a section of Jane’s visit to the North side – the one where she allegedly took a note from one of our guys as prisoner and sent him to his death. Well, that didn’t happen in reality but the story persists. And while Burns gives us the reasoning from the vet’s point of view about her actions in visiting segment. I am not sure anyone will believe it just as I am sure no one ever really believed her apology.

Vietnam warRegardless of your view of Jane Fonda, what you can’t get around is the visceral feelings this will bring up, especially those who served in the war, protested the war, or grew up during the war era. Ken Burns stated that with every day and new fact that turned up, he felt embarrassed by the new details he learned during the production of this film.

One of my friends, who is a retired librarian, said this film reminded her why she protested this war. I can’t imagine all of the reactions people might have to this series. But I do know that because this was made by Ken Burns it will be a high quality movie.

Just be aware that if you go to buy this movie or check it out from the Library, there are several disks. It might take you time to get through all of them. But the movie is guaranteed to make you think about that war, the things we did, those other soldiers did, and guess at what you might have done.

And that is not an easy thing to think about.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.